This report by independent environmental charity Earthsight finds illegal logging in FSC-certified supply chains in Ukraine. Focussed on the Carpathian forests, it found around 100 sites are being felled illegally each spring, when silence periods should protect several endangered animal species including brown bears, wolves and Eurasian lynx. While regulations require Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) before sanitary felling is conducted, no EIAs were found to have been carried out. Evidence sited by Earthsight includes the Ukrainian State Environmental Inspectorate (SEI), local environmental organisations, and research commissioned by WWF Germany.
Earthsight claims this illegal logging has not been picked up in FSC audits because of systematic issues with FSC that go beyond Ukraine: conflicts of interest as auditing bodies are paid by the logging companies they certify; inadequate oversight by Assurance Services International (ASI) which should be holding the auditing bodies to account but is argued to have failed to do so. The report documents a wide array of cases where FSC-certified firms have been accused of illegal logging, clearance of High Conservation Value (HCV) forests, and human rights abuses from all over the world – including in places such as Brazil, China, Congo, Indonesia, Peru, Romania, Russia, Ukraine. Earthsight highlights that FSC has only investigated 13 companies in its 27-year history – 0.02% of the more than 44,000 it has certified.
In response, FSC states it is fully aware of the issues in Ukraine, and insists that whenever illicit acts are identified or reported they are investigated. IKEA says it has started its own investigations, commissioned audits from a 3rd-party independent audit company, asked questions to ASI, and pledges that if any illegal wood is indicated in its product it will take immediate action.
Earthsight’s report focuses on IKEA because, as the biggest buyer of wood in the world, it has the most influence to drive positive change. However, the issues found by Earthsight apply to the publishing industry as much as they do to IKEA. Therefore, the Book Chain Project will further look into Earthsight’s findings and update you as soon as we decide what further action to take.